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Judge Rejects New Rule on Union Organizing

Wall Street Journal (05/15/12) Melanie Trottman

Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has struck down a rule designed to make it easier for unions to hold organizing elections on the grounds that the National Labor Relations Board lacked a quorum when it passed the measure in December. The ruling is a victory for business groups that challenged the regulation.

The rule, which made it tougher for employers to stall union-organizing drives in the work place, received votes from two of the board’s three members, both Democrats. At the time, the five-member board had two vacant seats. The third member, Republican Brian Hayes, who had previously voted against a proposed version of the rule, did not cast a vote. The board must have a quorum of at least three to vote on new rules. The judge said he was ruling on the nature of the vote, not on the rule’s legality, and that nothing appears to prevent “a properly constituted quorum of the board” from voting to adopt the rule.

EEOC Makes State Charge Data Available Online

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission News Release (05/14/12)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced the availability of private sector workplace discrimination charge statistics for each of the nation’s 50 states and U.S. territories for fiscal years 2009-11. The data provide a look at EEOC charge receipts, broken down by the basis of discrimination, as well as the percentage of total state and national charges.

Over 55 and Jobless, Americans Face Tough Hunt

Chicago Tribune (05/14/12) Susan Heavey

A report slated for release by the Government Accountability Office is expected to show that the number of unemployed people age 55 and older who have been out of work for more than six months rose from 23%, or less than 200,000, to 55%, or 1.1 million, over the past four years. Experts say it will be difficult for jobless older workers to re-enter the work force. Though age discrimination in employment is illegal, the GAO says employers may be engaging in discrimination by assuming older workers do not want lower-paying positions or will increase health care costs.

Workers Lacking Skills Hinder More Factory Gains

Bloomberg (05/14/12) Timothy Homan

Economists say the manufacturing industry is being held back by employers’ inability to locate employees with the right abilities. The number of factory jobs waiting to be filled climbed to 326,000 in March, the most since November 2007, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. “The manufacturing sector is clearly showing signs of a skills mismatch,” says Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays in New York. “It is likely to weigh on manufacturing growth.” The hiring rate for the industry was 2.2% in March compared with 2.9% in November 2007, according to DOL. “There’s a sharp divergence on what’s happening on the opening side and what’s happening on the hiring side,” underscoring the skills mismatch, states Maki.

Employers in half of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s 12 regions “reported having difficulty finding qualified workers, especially for certain high-skilled positions,” the central bank said April 11 in its “beige book” business survey. Federal Reserve policy makers are debating the extent to which a skills mismatch is contributing to unemployment as they consider whether more stimulus is needed to spur hiring.

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Register for Staffing World® 2012 by Friday

This Friday, May 18, is the early registration deadline for Staffing World 2012. The can’t-miss event for staffing executives takes place Oct. 9–11, in Las Vegas.

Save up to $400 per person when you register by Friday. Learn more at

Proposal Seeks to Help Temporary Hospitality Employees Find Permanent Jobs (05/14/12) Eva Pilgrim

Some Indianapolis city leaders are backing the Freed to Work proposal, which would prohibit hotels and contracting firms from entering into agreements that forbid temporary workers from transitioning into permanent jobs with the hotels. One worker, Martha Hernandez, worked at a Hyatt hotel and the JW Marriott via a staffing firm, Hospitality Staffing Solutions. She did not receive benefits such as holidays or insurance and decided she wanted to get a job directly through a hotel. However, she found she was not allowed to be hired directly. She is now part of a lawsuit against several hotels and the temporary staffing firm.

NY Officials Say Higher Minimum Wage Dead

Associated Press (05/14/12)

An unnamed New York official says an effort to raise the state’s minimum wage is dead. Dean Skelos, Senate majority leader, has said the bill will not hit the Senate floor, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not add the issue to a list of those that could be finalized by the time the legislative session ends on June 21. This comes despite a survey showing that 75% of independent voters support the measure and a study released by Democratic Sen. Jeffrey Klein revealing that $600 million in economic activity and 4,800 jobs would be created by the bill.

Miss. Gov. Signs Bills He Calls Business-Friendly

Associated Press (05/14/12) Emily Wagster Pettus

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed S.B. 2576, which makes changes to the workers’ compensation system. The provisions of the new law will allow companies to test for alcohol or drugs after a worker is hurt or killed on the job. Compensation will not be owed to someone found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including the improper use of legal prescription drugs. The provisions will also permit a partial reduction in payments to someone who is injured on the job but had a pre-existing condition such as a bad back.

Requiring Employees to Return to Work With No Restrictions or to Be ‘100% Healed’ Is a Huge Risk for Employers

FMLA Insights (05/10/2012) Jeff Nowak

Employers with policies requiring employees to return from Family and Medical Leave Act leave without restrictions or 100% healed could be discriminating against employees with disabilities who could perform their jobs with or without reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Courts have ruled that employers with such policies improperly skip the individualized assessment process required under the ADA. Employers that continue to enforce such policies are at risk, especially given the ADA Amendments Act’s broader regulations and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s stance that such policies violate the ADA. Experts say employers would be wise instead to require employees returning from leave to obtain a fitness-for-duty certification that indicates they can perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodation.

When Can an Employer Fire an Employee for Medical Leave Fraud?

JDSupra (05/11/2012) Robin E. Shea

Employers that learn that employees on medical leave have been working other jobs or engaging in recreational activities cannot simply terminate them for fraudulent medical leave. In some instances, employers might find that the job is not permitted under medical restrictions, but recreational activities or alternate employment are allowed and actually could help speed recovery and prevent depression. However, an investigation might reveal the employee performing the same job for another firm while on leave or undertaking other activities not allowed under medical restrictions, but experts say they must be handled on a case-by-case basis.

New Reasons to Take a Fresh Look at Your Background Check Practices

Lexology (05/04/12) Kevin D. Kelly; Genetha Turner; Saira Najam

In light of some recent developments, employers may want to re-evaluate their background check practices. On April 25, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released updated guidelines on how to properly consider job applicants’ criminal histories under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The guidelines point out that companies’ reliance on an applicant’s criminal background information may have a disparate impact on the employee because of his or her race or national origin.

In addition to Title VII considerations, companies may want to review their Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance. The FCRA requires that companies inform individuals of their intent to obtain a background report on a form that consists “solely” of that notice and not included as part of boilerplate language at the end of a job application.

Major Matters for U.S. College Graduates Seeking Jobs

Bloomberg (05/15/12) Sandrine Rastello

As this year’s college graduating class enters the strongest job market for graduates since 2008, students with backgrounds in computer science, engineering, and accounting are in high demand, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The group’s latest survey shows a 10.2% increase in hiring plans from 2011, but the improvement is not benefiting all majors the same way, says Edwin Koc, who heads research at NACE. “It’s a much more split market,” Koc notes. Graduates “with certain skill sets are doing quite well,” while things are tougher for others, such as liberal arts, humanities, and education majors, he says.

The increase in hiring for college graduates that NACE predicts is one of the signs of a slowly improving labor market, states Jesse Rothstein, associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. There are more opportunities than two years ago, though not as many as five years ago, he says. “There’s still a very limited number of jobs and a lot of competition,” he says. “When the labor market recovers quite a bit more than it has, then there will be jobs for the nontechnical majors as well.”

IT Hiring in the Silicon Valley and the Best Markets for Job Ads

Wanted Analytics (05/14/12) Abby Lombardi

More than 17,000 information technology jobs were posted online in April for the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas combined. San Francisco accounted for about 9,100 online job ads (up 17% compared with April 2011), and about 8,000 were located in San Jose (up 26% compared with April 2011). Recruiters are likely to find IT jobs hard to fill.